The fact that African-Americans around the nation are stuck in an economic slump is not exactly news. But the National Urban League's annual State of Black America report released on Thursday shows that Blacks are not only faring less well than whites but are also losing ground to Latinos. According to the report, 13.1 percent of African-Americans are unemployed compared with 6.5 percent of whites and 9.1 percent of Latinos.
This year, in addition to providing national statistics, the report for the first time ranks unemployment income inequality for approximately 80 American cities with the highest African-American and Latino populations.
"The equality index, unemployment numbers and wealth numbers show there's an economic crisis in Black America," NUL president Marc Morial told BET.com. "I'm excited that for the first time the report shows the dynamics that are the great divides that exist on a national level and at the community level."
It found, for example, that the smallest unemployment gap was in Georgia's Augusta-Richmond County area, where 13.3 percent of Blacks are unemployed compared to 8.5 percent of whites. The biggest gap was found in Madison, Wisconsin, where 18.5 percent of Blacks are unemployed compared with 4.4 percent of whites.
The report also found that Riverside, California, has the smallest income gap between African-Americans and whites at $44,572 and $57,252 a year, respectively. Conversely, the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota showed one of the largest income gaps at $28,744 a year for Blacks compared to $71, 376 for whites.
According to Morial, the differences exist for various reasons, but he hopes that communities will use the report "to start a conversation between elected officials, community organizations, constituents and others to determine what needs to be done to address those issues.
"We have some thoughts about some solutions. One is increasing the minimum wage and the other is passing a broad transportation infrastructure bill that is large and significant enough to fix broken roads, bridges and infrastructure across the nation."
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in remarks delivered at an NUL luncheon Thursday afternoon talked about the critical ways in which government and transportation impact the quality of life in minority and low-income communities.
Very often families in those communities pay a much higher percentage of their income on transportation.
"In no place does anyone have to sit at the back of the bus anymore. But what good is that if, in some places, the bus still doesn't come at all?" Foxx said.
Foxx urged the public to push Capitol Hill lawmakers to pass a transportation bill his agency will soon send to Congress to develop new bus rapid transportation programs and fund workforce development.
"Tell them how important rebuilding our transportation system is to expanding economic opportunities, to rebuilding income inequality," he said.
Follow Joyce Jones on Twitter: @BETpolitichick
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(Photo: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
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